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Happiness the Imaginary Number

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Happiness the Imaginary Number

Are you happy? If so, what makes you happy? If these two questions are difficult for you to answer, you are not alone. Happiness is something we all strive for in life but is often something that we struggle to define. The truth is that happiness looks different for everyone. While self help books will claim to have the secret solution to happiness the truth is that such a solution is impossible for same reason we struggle with these questions. A universal solution for happiness is impossible because we are all individuals and have unique definitions of happiness.

Evidence of this can be found everywhere from our personal lives to the short stories we use to educate our students about the past such as Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle, however, was one of those happy mortals,... If left to himself, he would have whistled life away, in perfect contentment; but his wife kept continually dinning in his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on his family (Irving).” Rip Van Winkle is happy with his lifestyle, while his wife is expressively unhappy. They are both living with the repercussions of Rip Van Winkle’s lifestyle but experience them differently, because they are two different people. It is not uncommon for two people living in the same situation to have two distinctly different experiences with that situation. One need simply look around a classroom and observe students participating in an activity to see this. In any given activity some of the students will be having fun while others look as if they would rather be anywhere else.



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